Boom Bye Byeby Montle Moorosi / 20.01.2011
The place is Haiti sometime during the early 90’s at a dinner party held at the house of an esteemed Haitan gentleman and his various friends. The party was a success by most carribean standards. The jerk chicken was crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, the couscous had an extravagant lemon zest to it and the rum was sweet and free. But the DJ at the party had a strange sense of humour or a point to get across.
“Boom bye bye in a batty boy head!” Blared through the speakers, a lot of people were nodding their heads and some broke into improptu dance numbers.
One party goer, a Jamaican then asked the person next to them dancing “do you know what they’re saying in this song?”
“What? I love this song though.” Said the punter in pink leather tights and a leopard print vest.
“He’s saying they should kill all the gays… by shooting them in the head.” The informed Jamaican woman said. Everyone at the party was gay. Little did 18 year Mark Anthony Myrie (also known as Buju Banton) know that this anti-gay song he wrote when he was only 15 would simultaneously propel him to stardom and near commercial destruction. This long before that thing with the 5 kilo bag of cocaine in Florida.
African and Caribbean attitudes towards homosexuals have always been nothing short of incendiary. It’s a line of thinking that borders on a hate crime. In Malawi you could get 15 years in jail for loving the taste of testes, and in Jamaica gay pride rallies are non-existant, for fear of being met by angry mobs wielding cricket bats, chains and set to a soundtrack by dancehall and reggae heavyweights like Shabba Ranks and Capleton. The reasons behind the homophobia are most often pinned on passages from the bible. They cite homosexuality as “a sin in the eyes of God” or my personal favourite a “Western construct”. According to this logic being gay is antithetical to being “African”. This of course is usually corroborated by piles of pseudo-evidence indicting Freddy Mecury, George Michael, Michael Jackson, Boy George and the occasional reference to Mandela being a “groot, ou 28” from his long stint in jail. The acclaimed sangoma and African conspiracy theorist, Credo Mutwa once told David Icke in an interview that he is embarrassed and ashamed about being bisexual. In fact he blames his bisexuality on aliens, the lizard people known to conspiracists as the Chitauri, that abducted him in 1958 in Rhodesia and raped him.
“Can you believe it Mr. David? Me an African man?” Said Credo with his pudgy, dark cheeks sagging to the floor.
But wasn’t great king Shaka rumoured to prefer the company of men? And weren’t some of the Egyptian pharaohs gay? With all that eye make-up they sure look a bit gay. My dear friend Jean Rene Onyangunga doesn’t look gay a lot of the time, unless he wants to, but he isn’t actually homosexual. He worked at Madame Zingara’s, a posh arty circus themed restaurant, where all the waiters are required to put on a show to earn their tips. He chose to dress in drag as his “stage” outfit in order to get more tips and perpetuate that old minstrel image so many consumers love at Melrose Arch. I think his waitress name was “Mavis”. Anyway, so one day after a long hard day’s work at the circus, Mavis really wanted to get a drink after his shift. He didn’t go home to change into Jean Rene clothes, and ended up at the Bassline on a Thursday night, which is a dancehall and reggae night.
“Howzit okes!” Jean Rene said staggering up to the bouncers at the door, his pink skirt ripped and slightly hiked up from sitting in a weird position in a overcrowded Toyota Tazz.
“No batty man allowed!” Said the bouncer.
“NO BATTY MAN!” The bouncer said pointing his finger at Jean Rene. JR then started laughing.
“My man, I’m not a batty boy. As you can see I’m here with three girls.”
“You can’t come in my man.”
“I’m not a batty boy, I have to wear this where I work. Look at these girls I’m with. I’m not gay!”
The bouncer looked him up and down. “Then go home and change, then you can come in… batty boy!”
Jean Rene didn’t go home to change, he went to the car, took off his dress and simply wore one of the girls’ tiny yellow cardigans and his boxer shorts. They then let him in, even though he looked far gayer than he did before with his torn pink dress hiked up over his hairy cock like thighs.
As the days go by I have become more conflicted. I love dancehall and reggae and a lot of my friends are hardline Rastafarians who talk about “slewing de chi chi man dem” as much as they talk about black consciousness and smoking beedies. But at the same time I also have a lot of gay friends. What I am certain about is that the censoring of homophobic dancehall and reggae artists is bullshit. Vybz Kartel is one of the worlds biggest dancehall artists at the moment and his music is loved in America, yet they wont let him perform there because of his homophobic sentiments, just like they did with Shabba Ranks when he stated the same views in a television interview and soon watched his international career get flushed down the toilet. Banning someone’s creative expression, no matter how repugnant the views they espouse, is never going to resolve an issue like the systemic and entrenched Afro-Caribbean homophobia. In fact, it’s far more likely to polarise and radicalise their position. If you don’t like the lyrics in their songs, then don’t listen to the music. Thing is, I see gay people dancing to Beenie man all the time, just like women dance to rap music that constantly calls them bitches and ho’s. Shabba Ranks eventually apologised for his homophobic remarks and said that he eventually saw that it was not his business to care where other people stick their cocks, but, for his career, it was too little too late.
So the question I have is can’t we all just get down to the music in peace with one another, while disagreeing with each others’ “disgusting” beliefs? It would all be much simpler if humans realized that we’re all scum bag pieces of shit anyway.